Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Gore Vidal, the American writer, media pundit, controversialist and politician manqué, who has died at the age of 86, was celebrated both for his caustic wit and his mandarin poise.

If a visitor from another galaxy happened to land on earth to observe the United States firsthand, what kind of impression would the country make on a complete stranger to the human race? This is the question posed in Gore Vidal's Visit to a Small Planet. The play was premièred in 1957 and so it was very new and very exciting when in ‘58, we staged it at Southern Methodist University drama society. I can’t remember exactly what role I played in the production, but it was my introduction to Vidal’s work.

Checking back I find that in my freshman year at SMU, in 1957, one of the productions of the Arden Club (which as a stage-struck seventeen-year-old I joined immediately!) was TS Eliot’s The Family Reunion, in which I played the Dr. Warburton! Eliot actually visited Dallas and gave a talk on the campus. I well remember being awed.

And as a Brit in Texas I found it interesting that Eliot although born an American went on to take British nationality.

Back to Gore Vidal. I like this quote...

“Everybody with an IQ above room temperature is on to the con act of our media. They are obeying bigger, richer interests than informing the public... which is the last thing that corporate America has ever been interested in doing.”

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